Chivalry & Sorcery & Eyestrain, Part III

Just The Factors, Ma’am

Last week, as you may recall, we left our intrepid heroine with a huge pile of really crappy stats. This week, we feed those crappy stats into a bunch of functions, equations, and what-not to produce some probably crappy values. Let’s see!

First up on the Eyestrain Agenda is Body. This is found by adding up all the various Body bonuses. I have a +2 for my size, and a +1 for my Constitution and a -1 for my Strength, so, +2. When I get around to picking a career, I get to add another number to this, but let’s keep that +2 in mind.

Fatigue: Fatigue is, basically, hit points, of the non-vital variety. For a while, D&D 3.0 experimented with “Wounds” and “Vitality”, with Vitality being the “hit points” that wore away from small wounds, exhaustion, and so on, while “Hit Points” were actual, serious, damage. Guess what? C&S did it in 1977. Based on my limited understanding of the chart, I roll 2d6 for Fatigue, and with the luck that’s been plaguing this character since her birth, get “4”.

Next up is my carrying capacity. I have a Strength Factor of 0.1 and a Constitution Factor of 0.1, so I multiply the total, 0.2, times my weight of 130 lbs. I can carry 26 lbs.

My Military Ability Factor, which tells if I can master tactics, be bold in battle, etc, is found by adding Intelligence, Wisdom, Strength, Dexterity, and Charisma, dividing by 10, then adding on a bunch of modifiers. When all is said and done, it comes out to 1.2, on a scale of 1 to 10. This gives me a Command Level of 0.6 . Since I’m not a trained fighter (I don’t think… no one’s asked me yet…) I subtract 2 from the Military Ability Factor and 1 from the Command Level.

At this point, it’s becoming evident I need to pick a class, as most of these charts and tables want me to have one. No classes have been described or listed yet. Indeed, looking through the rules, there’s no one section that says “Pick a Class”. There’s sections on fighting, on “Thieves, Brigands, and Assassins”, a huge-ass section on magic, but no obvious “Here’s the classes, pick one.” I think I will bleep over my “Personal Combat Factor” for now until I figure this part out. So what’s next?

My horoscope. Of course. And it’s in the Magician’s Chapter, naturally. A 78 tells me I’m a Capricorn, and if I’m understanding the vague and confusing rules on “well aspected” or “poorly aspected” properly, I’ll do best as a thief, a farmer, or an other. Since my Dexterity is the Stat Which Sucks The Least, I guess I’ll go with thief.

Going back to the PCF (Personal Combat Factor, weren’t you listening, dumbass?), it’s my Carrying Capacity/10 (2.6), plus my Military Ability Factor /2 (0.5), plus Dexterity/10 (1.1) + Class Factor, which is … not listed for a Thief. I guess that’s “Other Men”, or 0.5. This totals to 4.7, on a chart that can get as high as 50.

OK, time for Phobias. I rolled a 55, so I have one phobia, but I really should figure out my social class first, it seems. Of course, that’s on the next page…

Well, there’s a bit of luck. My father was a Noble, and I am his firstborn daughter! This might explain why I’m even still alive. Of course, with my poor Charisma and Appearance, he’s probably having a hard time marrying me off, and I don’t exactly bring anything else to the table — with a Strength of 2, I can barely carry a mop bucket around. Fortunately, I rolled that I am a “good” daughter and am welcome to stay at home.

Of course, as nobles go, Daddy was pretty lame — a Landed Knight only. This gives me a starting status of 5. In theory, I could work out how much land Daddy held, but doing so would require first detailing the entire feudal system of holdings and how they’re divided up, which seems a futile effort. (You see what I did there?)

At this point, I’m a little vague as to where to go next; it mostly seems to be writing down my (crappy) thief skills and buying equipment. So I will call this one done, and the next time someone waxes all nostalgic about how games used to be “simple” and “didn’t have all these rules”, find a way to print out C&S with a readable 12 point font and then beat him to death with the three or four reams of paper such an effort will produce.

PS: Since I’m a Noble, I add +15 to my phobia roll, so I have two phobias. I have xenophobia and demophobia, fear of strangers and fear of crowds. Oh, yeah, Daddy must be having a hell of a time finding a marriage partner for me. Ugly, weak, scared to meet new people and scared to go to social events. You know, dying during character creation in Traveller is more fun than this…

6 thoughts on “Chivalry & Sorcery & Eyestrain, Part III

  1. Castelain

    C&S 1st edition was confused with poor layout and the infamous small font. In it’s defence this was 1977. In that everyone is in agreement. Yet, it broke new ground and deserves praise as it in turn influenced all the other games (inc. D&D).

    A shame you didn’t pick 2nd edition (1983) to work through as it addressed most of the criticisms by reworking the rules somewhat, completely redoing the layout to something usable whilst losing none of the flavour.

    Of particular note (re: your article) was Character Generation, switching from random die roll to a points pool allocation mechanism 50+(10*2D6) resulting in 70 to 170 points to spend although you could have a bonus to that if your horoscope was favourable.

    C&S 3rd/4th did it slightly differently than that, but I’d encourage you to take a new look at 2nd. It fixed much of what 1st got wrong.

    5th Edition is due out in several months by the way.

    1. Lizard Post author

      I picked up Second Edition when it was semi-new (I think I got it around 1986 or so), so I am familiar with it. My interest in going back to the original was that it seemed more interesting to me, as an exercise in a rules walkthrough. I’m not sure how to characterize my “create a character” articles, because they’re not really reviews, per se, or rules analysis, or history… they’re all of the above, combined with (attempts at) humor and sarcasm.

  2. Castelain

    I came in via a link directly to your C&S article so haven’t read your other posts so didn’t realise your “angle”.

    Now I know that, it would be good to hear a summary from you IE how did C&S 1 stand up against Petal Throne, Tunnels & Trolls, OD&D & En Garde! (all first editions of course)… the 1974-1977 first batch of RPG’s.

    Good work Mr Lizard, a very interesting angle for some blogs.

      1. Lizard Post author

        It’s not 1974-1977…. it’s “Whatever games grab my mercurial and random interest at the moment”.

        Check out: (This is from the period you mention.) (This starts off a six-part epic, and is one of my favorite pieces.)

  3. David Pulver

    I very much enjoyed your three amusing C&S articles.

    Back in the day (1978 or so) I remember C&S was the game that a few hard core diehards at the university played so they could look down on the D&D players. For the rest of us it was kind of a joke – “percent chance of trout tickling” in the survival rules, that sort of thing. I think it was acknowledged the magic system was cool, and the C&S Sourcebook had some well-written GM advice on roleplaying encounters.

    I can see how random character generation with players willing to go with the flow could create some interesting concepts – the ugly, unwise but clever-tongued and dextrous daughter of a minor noble who moonlights as a sneak thief has story possibilities, albeit perhaps more as an NPC than a player character!


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